Congress Restores Federal Methane Standards

On June 25th the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution (H.J.Res.34) pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (‘CRA’) to restore EPA rules limiting oil and gas methane pollution from new wells, processing plants, and other facilities across the country. A companion measure ( S.J.Res.14) already passed the U.S. Senate in April.

See how PA’s Congressional Delegation voted [a ‘Yes’ vote is in favor of restoring the methane standards]:

Once signed by President Biden, the resolution will immediately reinstate provisions rescinded late last year by the previous administration and clear the way for additional safeguards for hundreds of thousands of new and existing wells. Facilities, built before 2015, are responsible for an overwhelming majority of industry’s methane pollution but aren’t subject to federal controls.

The original EPA methane regulations were adopted in 2016. In its waning days, the Trump administration rushed to repeal the policy – despite opposition from the oil and gas industry itself – in a move that failed to consider the impact on human health and the environment.

Along with strong backing by health, environmental, and community groups, a broad array of oil and gas companies and trade associations support passage of the methane CRA resolution. The methane CRA will clear the path to advance ambitious methane rules by immediately restoring methane standards for new oil and gas sources put in place in 2016. The new source standards for midstream facilities that are restored by the CRA will cut over 300,000 metric tons of methane and 8,500 metric tons of VOC next year alone.

Methane is responsible for at least a quarter of current global warming. The oil and gas sector emits roughly 16 million metric tons of methane annually, resulting in the same near-term climate impact as 350 coal-fired power plants.

Under section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act, restoration of methane regulations would clear the way for EPA agency to enact standards for the nation’s existing oil and gas infrastructure, which is responsible for 75% of industry’s methane pollution problem.